If you’ve received a DMCA takedown notice targeting content you’ve posted on HASH or if you’re a rights-holder looking to issue such a notice, this page will hopefully help to demystify the law and our processes at play as we seek to comply with it.
As with all legal matters, it is always best to consult with a professional about your specific questions or situation. We strongly encourage you to do so before taking any action that might impact your rights. This guide isn’t legal advice and shouldn’t be taken as such.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA) is a law which HASH is subject to, designed to provide safe harbor for service providers that host user-generated content. Without it, since even a single claim of copyright infringement can carry statutory damages of up to $150,000, the possibility of being held liable for user-generated content could be very harmful for service providers such as HASH. With potential damages multiplied across millions of users, cloud-computing and user-generated content sites like YouTube, GitHub or HASH could probably not exist without the DMCA (or at least not without passing some of that cost downstream to their users).
So long as a service provider follows the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown rules, it won’t be liable for copyright infringement based on user-generated content. Because of this, it is important for HASH to maintain its DMCA safe-harbor status, and on this page we both explain how copyright-holders can issue us with a DMCA notice, how we’ll respond to it, and how impacted users can take action if they feel they’ve been unfairly affected by an improper DMCA notice.
The DMCA provides two simple, straightforward procedures that all HASH users should know about: (i) a takedown-notice procedure for copyright holders to request that content be removed; and (ii) a counter-notice procedure for users to get content reenabled when content is taken down by mistake or misidentification.
The DMCA notice and takedown process should be used only for complaints about copyright infringement. Notices sent through our DMCA process must identify copyrighted work or works that are allegedly being infringed. The process cannot be used for other complaints, such as complaints about alleged trademark infringement or sensitive data; we offer separate processes for those situations.
The DMCA framework is a bit like passing notes in class. The copyright owner hands HASH a complaint about a user. If it’s written correctly, we pass the complaint along to the user. If the user disputes the complaint, they can pass a note back saying so. HASH exercises little discretion in the process other than determining whether the notices meet the minimum requirements of the DMCA. It is up to the parties (and their lawyers) to evaluate the merit of their claims, bearing in mind that notices must be made under penalty of perjury.
Here are the basic steps in the process.
One of the best features of HASH is the ability for users to “fork” one another’s simulations and files. What does that mean? In essence, it means that users can make a copy of a project on HASH into their own repositories. As the license or the law allows, users can then make changes to that fork to either push back to the main project or just keep as their own variation of a project. Each of these copies is a “fork” of the original repository, which in turn may also be called the “parent” of the fork.
HASH will not automatically disable forks when disabling a parent repository. This is because forks belong to different users, may have been altered in significant ways, and may be licensed or used in a different way that is protected by the fair-use doctrine. HASH does not conduct any independent investigation into forks. We expect copyright owners to conduct that investigation and, if they believe that the forks are also infringing, expressly include forks in their takedown notice.
We recognize that there are many valid reasons that you may not be able to make changes within the approximate 24-hour window we provide before your repository gets disabled. Maybe our message got flagged as spam, maybe you were on vacation, maybe you don’t check that email account regularly, or maybe you were just busy. We get it. If you respond to let us know that you would have liked to make the changes, but somehow missed the first opportunity, we will re-enable the repository one additional time for approximately 24 hours to allow you to make the changes. Again, you must notify us that you have made the changes in order to keep the repository enabled after that 24-hour window, as noted above in Step A.4. Please note that we will only provide this one additional chance.
We believe that transparency is a virtue. The public should know what content is being removed from HASH and why. An informed public can notice and surface potential issues that would otherwise go unnoticed in an opaque system. We post redacted copies of any legal notices we receive (including original notices, counter notices or retractions) at https://github.com/hashintel/dmca. We will not publicly publish your personal contact information; we will remove personal information (except for usernames in URLs) before publishing notices. We will not, however, redact any other information from your notice unless you specifically ask us to. When we remove content, we will post a link to the related notice in its place.
Please also note that, although we will not publicly publish unredacted notices, we may provide a complete unredacted copy of any notices we receive directly to any party whose rights would be affected by it.
It is the policy of HASH, in appropriate circumstances and in its sole discretion, to disable and terminate the accounts of users who may infringe upon the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of HASH or others.
If you are ready to submit a notice or a counter notice:
If you poke around the Internet, it is not too hard to find commentary and criticism about the copyright system in general and the DMCA in particular. Our colleagues at GitHub have published a number of thoughtful pieces on this issue. We join them in acknowledging and appreciating the important role that the DMCA has played in promoting innovation online, but share a belief that copyright laws themselves could probably benefit from being updated. Simulations and datasets are constantly being improved and updated. Technology and the web have changed a lot since 1998 when the DMCA was written.
We don’t have all the answers and the range of opinions and proposals regarding reform are wide. For those with an interest in delving further into the topic, here are a number of influential pieces:
HASH doesn’t necessarily endorse any of the viewpoints in those articles. We provide the links to encourage you to learn more, form your own opinions, and then reach out to your elected representative(s) to seek whatever changes you think should be made.